Hydrogen garbage trucks – The key to decarbonizing a hard-to-abate industry in North America

Hydrogen garbage trucks – The key to decarbonizing a hard-to-abate industry in North America

February 12, 2024 1 By Amanda Giasson

Hyzon and New Way Trucks collab on H2 refuse vehicles.

Hyzon Motors Inc. and New Way Trucks have come together to establish a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to develop hydrogen garbage trucks for the North American Market. The goal is to help reduce emissions produced from the waste management industry by powering vehicles with fuel cells.

Providing clean fuel options to reduce emissions in hard-to-abate industries.

Hyzon Motors is a New York-based hydrogen fuel cell technology developer and global supplier of zero-emission heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). According to the company’s CEO, Parker Meeks, “Zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell technology is the key to reducing emissions from many hard-to-abate industries, including refuse collection.”

Waste management, without a doubt, is a hard-to-abate industry. A 2017 study on the carbon and energy footprints of garbage trucks in the US, published in the journal Sustainable Production and Consumption, revealed that there are an estimated 250 million tons of municipal solid waste generated in the United States every year. Most of this waste is sent to landfills, while the remainder is recycled, composted, or incinerated. Regardless of what happens to the waste, each method, in one way or another, depends on refuse (garbage) collection trucks.

Of the estimated, 179,000 class-8 heavy-duty garbage trucks in operation at the time of the study, 90% were diesel powered. The study notes that diesel-powered garbage trucks have the lowest fuel economy (2-3 miles per gallon) among all vehicle types and typically have annual utilization levels as high as 25,000 miles per year. Moreover, because they frequently stop-and-go to collect waste, carry large payloads and use on-board equipment (e.g. lift, compactor, etc.), these trucks consume a lot more fuel compared to other types of heavy-duty trucks; as much as 1.2 billion gallons of diesel annually. Using such large amounts of fuel has a massive impact on the environment.

As such, finding alternative sources of fuel to significantly reduce – or better yet – eliminate tailpipe emissions from these trucks, is crucial to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reach climate targets. With only water vapor coming from the tailpipe, fast refueling, and delivering performance levels on par with diesel and natural gas trucks, hydrogen garbage trucks could be the key to decarbonizing the sector.

Hyzon and New Way plan to start the advanced development phases of their hydrogen garbage trucks.

Combining the expertise of both companies, the initial base prototype of their hydrogen garbage trucks will be ready to have refuse collection equipment integrated. Hyzon will oversee supplying and integrating its advanced fuel cell tech and integrated powertrain. New Way, an Iowa-based garbage truck manufacturer, will oversee the supply and integration of the prototype’s Sidewinder XTR automated side-load refuse body.

Hydrogen garbage trucks - North America H2 - Image of a standard garbage truck

“Hyzon is primed to begin this partnership with New Way as we pursue a shared goal of decarbonizing the refuse industry,” Meeks said of the collaboration.

“Partnering with Hyzon to bring the continent’s first Class 8 FCEV refuse collection vehicle to life is a significant step in helping our customers meet their sustainability and decarbonization objectives,” added Don Ross, New Way’s chief sales officer.

Trials are expected to begin in the first half of 2024.

hydrogen news ebookThis isn’t the first time Hyzon has been a part of developing, assembling, and deploying hydrogen garbage trucks. The company previously collaborated with REMONDIS Australia and has had an H2 garbage truck in operation since October of last year (2023).

As for the North American hydrogen garbage trucks project, initial customer trials for the first prototype vehicle are planned to start in the first half of this year and will include a mix of both public and private fleets. During trials, the trucks are expected to achieve up to 125-mile driving range and 1,200 refuse cart lifts per route.

Hyzon’s goal is to begin commercial vehicle deliveries in 2025 following potential successful trials of the hydrogen garbage trucks.

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